It is always unnerving to take on change. At the same time it is also always a chance to look at how you can thrive. This is particularly true within the niche of car rental. It is a major industry player. Which traditionally held steadfast to an ethos of customer service. But also rewards for loyalty, and brand recognition are equally important. Holding too firm to that ethos is simply not good for business in today’s market, for several important reasons.
Car rental companies are seeing that being guardians of tradition isn’t feasible. But they’ve been (traditionally) slow to adopt new models. That doesn’t mean they don’t see the issues. It is difficult for them to find business and IT infrastructures that can help them move into change. Especially when you dont want to rip and replace current ways of working.
To start, let’s quickly define what we mean by car rental aligning with retail trends. The biggest takeaway is that customers aren’t looking at your customer service and the quality of automobiles you provide. You might say they’re not even valuing car rental as a service—it’s a commodity.
Change is the trend that is going to hold firm
Reasons and ways to rent will always be changing for car rental companies. Also how customers interact with the company is evolving. “There’s no one business model to turn to for car rental agencies Today.” says Michel Toppers, Director of Sales and delivery at HiGH Software. “Experts can’t even point to 10 or 20 models that could be sure bets for any length of time. What is more likely, is that companies may need to dip their toes in and out of a variety of models. Ofcourse depending on opportunity and customer desires".
What’s more germane is a trend toward flexibility
Car rental companies need to be ready to seize opportunity and offer discounts, upgrades and pay per use models. Also other trends that might prove ephemeral but still will be important to bringing in revenues and profits. Like the retail industry, what’s fashionable today may die away in 6 weeks or 6 months, but it still can bring in revenues and profits.
Another key trend that is becoming a new tradition is omni-channel rental
Customers want to monitor full rental lifecycles on mobile devices, from initial glance through invoice and payment. Extreme examples would be pick-up and drop-off that involve no employee customer interaction—everything’s been resolved with taps on their mobile devices.
In many cases omni-channel car rental is a third-party service
For example an agency offering that is part of an online travel package. Car rental companies can form alliances with partners, but they need to be ready to offer fast and furious incentives 24/7 when customers are trolling through offerings—the ability to pay for usage only would prove far more important than customer loyalty to a car brand or a particular rental dealer.
What car rental companies do find compelling about such trends is that they call for both business practices and software that can accommodate a very dense net of requirements that can shift, disappear, reappear, depending on geography, social mood, even the weather, and consumer favorites.
What we have found is that car rental companies DO want software that is flexible enough to let them move with new trends without running up costs and complexity for contracts, service, and partnerships.
It’s extremely important to not just pick the first IT innovation that is faster to implement, cheaper, and promises the moon. You will want to work with partners who understand how these trends intersect with technology and business practices.
Most important, car rental companies need partners or sources of insight that show them how these changing trends can benefit their business practices.
For example, the trend of mobility holds out some great sources of insight and opportunity for car rental companies in their back offices and service departments. Just as customers can find you and everything you offer via an interface, you can deploy Internet of Things devices that hook into your software to let you monitor utilization, service needs, driver patterns, environmental conditions that impact cars and the flow of business—that is just scratching the surface.
So our takeaway for car rental companies is to embrace what’s happening and find good resources and business and IT partners who will help them navigate change. Look for collaborative business partners, IT advisors who can help you tune standard offerings to accommodate new models. You can be unnerved by innovation, but gather the right circle of friends and you’ll be able to thrive.